PESHAWAR — Speakers at a seminar urged federal government to constitute a national commission for minorities’ rights in the light of the Supreme Court’s verdict passed by then the chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani on 19 June 2014.

The day-long consultative meeting was organized by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and Peoples Commission for Minorities’ Rights (PCMR) here at Peshawar.

Peter Jacob, Executive Director, Centre for Social Justice, told Peshawar Today that establishing the national commission for minorities in the backdrop of the apex court’ s ruling is indispensable to ensure protection of minorities’ rights and bring an end to discrimination. He said the aim of the consultative meeting was to discuss a draft Bill seeking support of stakeholders for establishing an independent statutory body and to discuss practical steps to assist stakeholders for meaningful and effective engagement with Shoaib Suddle Commission, an implementation commission mandated by Supreme Court to follow up on the apex court of 2014.

Mr. Peter Jacob The National Action Plan (NAP) for Human Rights 2016 as well as the Supreme Court 2014 ruling, all required an official minority-specific commission to be constituted. Moreover, during the 2018 General Elections, political parties promised establishing such a commission, and should therefore introduce and support legislation to this effect and establish a minorities’ rights commission in accordance with the six UN Paris principles having a broad mandate to monitor & evaluate the quality of implementation of laws and policies, contribute to law and policy reform, and conduct inquiry & investigation into complaints of violation of minority rights.

Ms. Rukhsanda Naz – incumbent Ombudsperson for the Protection of Harassment of Women against Workplace noted that discrimination prevails across the economic, social, political and cultural spheres, and the government should address disparity of rights and opportunities by implementing court ruling in letter and spirit, and to this end, must introduce effective affirmative measures for the empowerment of minorities, and in doing so, strengthen democracy, promote human rights and rule of law, and foster religious tolerance in Pakistan.

Other participants included Dr. Sarah Safdar, Rubina Massey, Kulsoom Sadiq, Adan Abid, Naqash Bhatti, Kashif Muneer, Ravi Kumar (MPA), Haroon Sarab Diyal, Safina Gulfam, Patrick Naeem, Bishop Earnest, Pastor Hashmat and other prominent members of civil society and religious leadership.

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